FDA Doesn’t Know How to Contact Most Food Manufacturers During an E. Coli Outbreak

grocery-store aisle

More than 50% of food manufacturers don’t know that they are supposed to provide the FDA with updated contact information in
the case of emergencies, such as salmonella or other forms of food
contamination. This is the stomach-turning revelation in a federal report to be released later today by the Health and Human Services Inspector General’s office. The auditors conducting the report also found that 48% of the manufacturers they surveyed had not provided the FDA with accurate
contact information, and about 25% provided no emergency contact
information at all.

This stands to further freak out everyone who read The New York Times article on ground beef back in October, which described the high prevalence of E. Coli in America’s hamburger supply.

The big question here is how long the FDA has been aware of this problem–and if not, then why? According to the AP, FDA sources have said little other than to call the new report “helpful.” But, considering the U.S. Senate just approved a bill last month that would give the agency even more authority over the food industry, you’d think they would be trying to beef up (no pun intended) their record-keeping capabilities.

[Photo by jcoterhals]